A course website for DS 501: Wearable Technology Spring 2018
Final Project Post
What it does and how it works-Sole Noctis shoes are athletic shoes that combine active and passive lighting components to keep you safe in the dark. The active lighting is composed of 5 battery powered LEDS on the heel of each shoe. The LEDS are controlled by an internal switch underneath the balls of the wearer’s foot, so with each step, the LEDS are activated. Passive lighting involves both Lunabrite technology and standard reflective material. The reflective strips are sewn on the shoelaces, offering added visibility from head on. Lunabrite glow material is technology that charges with any exposure to light and glows for up to eight hours in dark environments. In daylight, Lunabrite is a white/cream colored material, but at night, colors such as intense blue and green are emitted. The Lunabrite is located all around both the sides and front of the shoe, letting you be seen from all sides, whether or not the person coming towards you is shining a light your way.
Feelings- As a prototype, I am excited with my product. The aesthetics turned out like I wanted them: the shoes look sleek and unobtrusive during the day, while offering a pattern of glow at night that is pleasing to the eye. The colors of the shoe during the day, the LEDS, and the Lunabrite at night are all complementary. I was also able to achieve my functionality goals of using both active and passive lighting, so I am pleased with the technology incorporated. I do see room for improvement, but based on the time frame of the class, I am happy with what I accomplished.
How well does it meet original goals- My primary goal was to use an existing essential of our lives and add a visibility component. When most of us think of running safety, we think reflectors and neon vests. The issue with those? Neon vests are another thing to purchase and wear, and while reflectors are better than nothing, you are only seen if the person coming towards you is shining a light in your direction. Sole Noctis avoids both of these issues by incorporating safety lighting into an existing component of your wardrobe and by having you emit the light. I met my original goal by creating a product that allows you to take control of being seen.
Biggest challenges- My three biggest challenges were creating a product that looked good both during the day and at night, incorporating the battery in an unobtrusive manner, and dealing with the strength of the Lunabrite. At first I thought I could place the lighting components wherever I wanted on the shoe as long as it didn’t look awkward during the day. While starting the process however, I realized that since only the lighting components would be seen at night, it was important to align them in a way that looked good at night as well. I achieved this by chalking on where I wanted the Lunabrite to go, and visualizing just seeing those areas without seeing the rest of the shoe. Incorporating the battery was also a slight challenge, I had to make sure to try to have the shoe on while experimenting with battery placement in order to find a location to put the battery that wouldn’t bother the wearer while walking or running. My greatest challenge was working with the limited strength of the Lunabrite, and I would still like to come up with a better solution to this. I actually came across this issue by accident. I beginning prototyping on my current pair of running shoes, and initially cut out mesh areas on the top of my shoe and replaced them with Lunabrite. After a while, the Lunabrite ripped out from the stitches securing it. I assumed the sewing was the issue, and moved to Gorilla glue. While the glue lasted longer, eventually, the Lunabrite ripped again. Those particular glow sheets were just not up to the stress being put on them. In my project, I used a thicker type of Lunabrite and glued it to the exterior of the shoe in the hopes of minimizing the stress on the Lunabrite. While I feel this is a good temporary solution, I am interested to see how it will hold up when I actually start running in them.
If you had more time/future modifications- I somewhat touched on this already, but I would like to either find a way to incorporate Lunabrite directly into the shoe or another means of ensuring its durability when placed under the stress of daily activity. Lunabrite does create a resin, and I think this could be useful in the future. I am also interested in programming the LEDS to only be active at night, however, this would most likely require the addition of a micro controller to the shoes, which would be an additional challenge due to the size of most micro-controllers and the limited space availability in the shoes.